Red Cross Congratulates Lifesaver Awards Breakfast Winners

By Heather Hicks, Communications Intern

The American Red Cross Greater St. Louis Region would once again like to congratulate the 3rd annual Lifesaver Awards Breakfast winners. Local lifesavers were awarded in ten categories at The Chase Park Plaza on March 13, 2014. The Red Cross honored individuals and groups for their courageous actions in saving the life of another.

Healthcare Professional Lifesaver Award Winner Rachel Solomon
Sponsored by: Ascension

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Early last spring Daisy Hudspeth was looking forward to her high school graduation and making plans for her future. Had it not been for the efforts of nurse Rachel Solomon, that future might look very different today.

While on her way to school one morning in April, Hudspeth was in a car accident near Clayton Road and Big Bend Boulevard in St. Louis County. With neck and back injuries, the student required immediate medical attention. Solomon, a cardiothoracic nurse at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, saw the accident and with no regard to the stormy weather and busy traffic, promptly came to Hudspeth’s aid. With smoke coming from the car, Solomon made the decision to pull the severely hurt and bleeding Hudspeth from the vehicle. Once out of the car, the nurse continued caring for the accident victimuntil the paramedics arrived.

Hudspeth’s father calls Solomon an angel, and hopes that one day his daughter will possess the same skill and character his daughter’s Lifesaver demonstrated that stormy morning. After the accident, he wrote a letter to the leaders of Barnes-Jewish Hospital, praising Solomon’s actions. They in turn nominated her for “The Daisy Award,” (ironically the name of the victim in this case) a national nursing award that recognizes “the super-human work nurses do for patients and families every day.” Solomon received “The Daisy Award” this past fall.

You can listen to Rachel and Daisy tell their story here:

Disaster Relief Lifesaver Award Winner MICDS Varsity Football Team
Sponsored by: Emerson

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The MICDS (Mary Institute and St. Louis Country Day School) Varsity Football Team is familiar with standing ovations. But this summer, when the team of more than 60 players arrived at the Multi-Agency Resource Center set up in Waynesville, Missouri, to address the needs of Pulaski County flood victims, the team could not have been more surprised when the people at the center stopped everything to cheer for them.

The players were moved by the display of gratitude. Late last summer, the team dedicated one of their final days of vacation to helping Red Cross flood relief efforts in mid-Missouri. The group of student athletes repaired a community park and helped restore a home by finding and retrieving an entire porch that had washed away. Team members also cleared debris from affected neighborhoods.

“I didn’t know it was going to be that bad,” said Stephen Valentine, senior and Varsity team captain. “But going there—seeing it in first person, seeing the destruction—it’s just an eye opener.” The Waynesville community is grateful to the team not only for the contributions to the relief effort, but also for their real concern. The students are a reflection of the school mission to lead lives of compassion, purpose and service.

“I think there is a kind of ripple effect when a group of people steps out and tries to make a difference in a community,” said Brian Trelstad, senior and Varsity team captain. “Hopefully this will show people what can be done and what is done when you step out of your comfort zone and help out.” The students appreciated the opportunity to make a difference as a team. “It sort of inspires us,” said William Schlafly, senior and Varsity team captain. “And I think it motivated a lot of people on our team to give back and do what they could in whatever way.”

“It was the first time I’d ever seen something like that,” said Alim Muhammad, senior and Varsity team captain. ”It was really eye opening and just made us want to contribute more to the relief there.” What began as an opportunity to build team unity is now much more. By helping the Waynesville community recover from severe summer flooding, the members of the MICDS Varsity Football Team are inspirational Lifesavers for so many.

You can listen to the MICDS Varsity Football Team tell their story here:

Good Samaritan Adult Lifesaver Award – Tony McWhorter
Sponsored by: St. Louis Area BP Station Owners

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Tony McWhorter has been hauling grain for Kent Elmore’s family farm in Illinois for many years. One October day, as he was finishing his load, tragedy struck. An auger accident severed part of Elmore’s leg. McWhorter did not see the accident, but when he heard Elmore’s call for help, he responded. The grain hauler immediately fashioned a tourniquet out of his belt and applied it to Elmore’s leg. Remaining calm, McWhorter radioed his company’s dispatcher to call 911 and then proceeded to monitor Elmore’s status. He applied pressure to control the blood loss and placed his coat over Elmore to keep him warm until emergency personnel arrived.

The Elmore family’s farm sits nearly 20 miles outside of the nearest town in southeastern Effingham County; McWhorter’s quick response undoubtedly saved Elmore’s life. A medical helicopter transported Elmore to St. Louis, who was in surgery within three hours. Needless to say, Elmore is grateful to McWhorter. Elmore considers himself lucky to have had the right people around to take care of him. “Every day is a blessing,” said Elmore. “Tony gave me a chance for another day.”

McWhorter does not think he did anything extraordinary. He says it was simply instinct and he is happy to be able to help. Not only is McWhorter a true Lifesaver because of his actions that day, but he went back to the farm to finish transporting grain and taking care of the family’s farm equipment.

You can listen to Tony and Kent tell their story here:

Firefighter Lifesaver Award Winner Steven Slemer
Sponsored by: Ekon Benefits

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Glen Carbon, Illinois, volunteer firefighter Steven Slemer had always regarded water as a lifesaving tool, but driving home one evening in August, he came upon an accident where water almost proved fatal. Slemer saw two bystanders looking down into a water-filled ditch and wondered if something was wrong. When he questioned them, they pointed out an overturned vehicle in the ditch. Slemer went down to the car and realized the driver was trapped inside, struggling to keep his head above water. With the water rapidly rising in the vehicle, Slemer knew he had to act quickly.

At one point, the water rose so much the victim’s head became fully submerged. Using a knife provided by a bystander, Slemer cut through the seatbelt, which allowed Slemer to reposition the victim’s head above the water. Bystanders and emergency personnel helped position the vehicle to allow for the victim to be rescued. A medical helicopter transported him to a St. Louis hospital for treatment.

The driver’s head had been completely submerged in water for nearly one minute, but thanks to Slemer’s courageous effort, he survived. The victim and Slemer have had a chance to meet, and he is grateful to Slemer for saving his life. Slemer, who has been involved in other rescues as a firefighter, is a real Lifesaver.

The Sons of the American Revolution, the local Board of police commissioners, and the Mitchell Fire Department also have recognized Slemer for his heroic actions.

You can listen to Steven tell his story here:

Military Lifesaver Award Winner Lieutenant Colonel Dan Reece
Sponsored by: Veterans Home Care


As a member of the Missouri Air National Guard, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Reece trains for emergencies, so early last December when he saw a large plume of smoke coming from an apartment building in South St. Louis County, he knew he had to act.

When Reece arrived on the scene of the fire, he did not see emergency response vehicles. Residents exiting the building told him that others were trapped inside. After telling a bystander to call 911, Reece tried to fight his way through thick smoke to find an unlocked door so he could enter the building. Finally, a door opened and he made his way inside.

With the help of a police officer who arrived on scene, Reece began coordinating efforts to rescue a woman in her bed. Using the bed sheets, Reece worked with others to carry her out. Reece is glad he was there to help the woman who was recovering from knee surgery. After getting her to safety, he made sure the other residents were cared for as well.

Even though Reece never had been in a fire situation before, he said he knew what to do because of his extensive military training. “The first step is to life safety, to try and save as many lives as we can,” he said. “And that’s what I tried to do.”

Reece does not see his actions as heroic. In fact, he does not see anything special about what he did. A love for people and community inspires Reece. ”It’s all about serving other people,” he said. “This is what we do in the National Guard. We serve the community as well as our nation.”

You can listen to Dan tell his story here:

Blood Services Lifesaver Award Winner The Hellebusch Family
Sponsored by: Anheuser-Busch

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Giving the gift of life—by donating blood—is an important family tradition for the Hellebusch family. Herbert Hellebusch, the family patriarch, started the tradition, donating more than 100 units of blood in his lifetime. To date, his family has donated more than 200 gallons of blood and blood products and assisted in the collection of an additional 130 gallons by holding and coordinating community blood drives.

One unit of blood can save up to three lives, and one gallon can save more than 20, which means the Hellebusch family potentially saved 6,600 lives. But the Hellebusch family does not believe they are doing anything heroic by donating blood. They were raised to do it. Francis Hellebusch, Herbert’s oldest son, donated blood for more than 40 years, giving more than 80 units overall until he was no longer able to give. His wife also donates blood and coordinates blood drives; their two children donate as well.

Several family members regularly donate whole blood and platelets. Some even donate double red blood cells, which allows the donor to safely give two units of red blood cells at one time. “People think it’s scary,” said Judy Hellebusch Mendenhall, who has been donating blood since she was 18-years-old. “It helps knowing that it’s a good thing that you’re doing.”

Ralph Hellebusch donates platelets twice a month and whole blood at least two or three times a year. As director of the Warren County Ambulance District, he sees the need for blood donation first hand. “When you donate, you don’t really think about it,” he said. “You’re just doing the job that needs to be done.”

You can listen to the Hellebusch family tell their story here:

Good Samaritan Youth Lifesaver Award Winner Jarrid Hamilton and Korde Rosa
Sponsored by: AAA

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Last August, Korde Rosa had never even used a car jack to change a tire, but one afternoon on his way to golf practice, the high school senior used it to save the life of a man pinned beneath a trailer.

Approaching an accident, Rosa responded quickly when he saw an SUV in the ditch and a flatbed trailer askew on the road. The 69-year-old man trapped under the trailer was still conscious. Rosa, quickly retrieved a jack from his car and attempted to free the trapped driver. As Rosa tried to raise the trailer, Jarrid Hamilton, another member of the Northwest High School golf team, stopped to help. Soon, a classmate’s father arrived on scene, and together the three of them rescued the man.

Neither of the boys have any special training for emergency situations, but both attribute their response to instinct and a desire to do the right thing.

“It was just a spur of the moment thing,” said Hamilton. “The guy needed help and I’m just glad we were there to help him. I don’t know what would’ve happened if we didn’t show up and no one came along.”

The man did not suffer from any life-threatening injuries. According to Rosa and Hamilton, he was back to doing yard work the next day when they drove past him on their way to golf practice once again.

Rosa received a Distinguished Citizens Service Award from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and a Meritorious Service Award from the Cedar Hill Fire Protection District. Both boys are reluctant to be called heroes, saying they did what anyone else would have. Regardless, their remarkable actions make them real Lifesavers.

You can listen to Jarrid and Korde tell their story here:

Law Enforcement Lifesaver Award Winner Detective Bret Carbray
Sponsored by: Drury Hotels Company

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Law enforcement officers often notice when things are out of the ordinary. When Detective Bret Carbray saw an undamaged car in the median as he was driving home from a youth baseball tournament in Branson, Missouri last May, he immediately knew something was wrong. When the officer pulled over, he discovered a man slumped over the steering wheel inside the car. With his wife and two children riding with him, the off-duty detective immediately pulled over to help.

When he got to the car, Detective Carbray found the driver, Craig Beeson, unresponsive. Detective Carbray’s wife noticed the sunroof was open; another bystander on the scene had already reached in to unlock the door. As his wife and children looked on, Detective Carbray pulled Beeson from the vehicle. Finding no pulse or signs of breathing, he began CPR. For nearly 15 minutes, Detective Carbray continued to perform CPR until another parent from the baseball team arrived and relieved him. Finally paramedics arrived.

Detective Carbray has been a member of the Lake Saint Louis Police Department for almost nine years. He does not think he is a hero. Beeson, who has since made a full recovery and remains in contact with Detective Carbray, does not agree. He thinks a hero is someone whose actions exceed what are expected, someone who does more than they are asked to do. Beeson says that describes Detective Carbray‘s actions that day. “If he hadn’t come along, I wouldn’t be here today,” said Beeson. “I’m grateful that he did.”

Detective Carbray truly is Beeson’s Lifesaver.

You can listen to Bret and Craig tell their story here:

Water Safety Lifesaver Award Winner Kali DeSherlia, Brody Hagen, and Sydney Brangenberg
Sponsored by: US Bank

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What began as a typical summer day at Donor Pool in Jerseyville, Illinois last August, quickly turned life threatening. Lifeguard Brody Hagen was sitting in the guard stand when he saw a 4-year-old boy at the bottom of the pool. Hagen immediately alerted fellow lifeguard Sydney Brangenberg. Hagen and Brangenberg jumped into the pool and brought the unresponsive boy to the surface. He was limp and turning blue. Kali DeSherlia, who was managing the pool that day, took control of the emergency. Using a combination of instinct and training, the three lifeguards worked together to begin CPR. By the time paramedics arrived, the boy was breathing and stable.

It was a terrifying situation, but the three veteran lifeguards agree that they were prepared and pleased they could do their jobs. “We did what we had to do,” said DeSherlia.

Hagen, Brangenberg and DeSherlia had been lifeguards at Donor Pool for many summers and are trained by the American Red Cross. The three said it was training, experience and instinct that allowed them to stay calm and respond appropriately to the dire situation. “If we didn’t have that training, he might not be here today,” said DeSherlia.

The three lifeguards received a commendation from the Jerseyville City Council, recognizing their lifesaving actions. They are proud of the job they did and want others to learn from their experience. Everyone should train to save a life. The three lifeguards are Lifesavers for one young boy and his family.

You can listen to Kali, Brody, and Sydney tell their story here:

Lifesaving Organization Lifesaver Award – Schnucks
Sponsored by: American Direct

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A regular trip to the Schnucks grocery store could have ended in tragedy, if not for the quick actions of some well trained employees.

While shopping at the Schnucks in High Ridge, Missouri, a man suddenly collapsed and struck the seafood case before he hit the floor. A Schnucks teammate and store manager immediately started to administer first aid. They determined he was unresponsive and immediately shouted for someone to call 911 and retrieve the Automated External Defibrillator (AED).

Two additional teammates jumped in to help. Together the group, using their Red Cross training and the store’s AED, administered a shock and worked with emergency responders to continue care. Later, an EMS official contacted the manager and shared how impressed he was with the store’s employees. Their quick action and trained response saved the shopper.

Schnucks Markets has equipped each of its 110 grocery stores in the Greater St. Louis area with an AED purchased through the American Red Cross, and nearly 1,200 Schnucks employees are Red Cross trained in CPR and AED.

Because they acted quickly and used their training properly, the employees of Schnucks are true Lifesavers.

You can listen to Schnucks employees tell their story here:

Thank you once again to the winners for being true Lifesavers.

Celebrating Our Lifesavers: Military

**As we prepare for the Lifesaver 2014 Awards Breakfast on March 13th at the Chase Park Plaza, please join us on our blog as we share the stories and extraordinary efforts of this year’s honorees.**


By Emily Cutka, Communications Intern

It’s no easy task to risk your life for another. And it’s not something to take lightly. But after spotting smoke from an active apartment fire and no responders yet on the scene, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Reece quickly jumped into action. With barely a backwards glance, he ran into the apartment to help the residents still inside.

The smoke was too thick to even see through, but the Missouri National Guardsman knew that there were people he needed to get out. He kicked through glass, broke down doors, and did whatever it took to make it inside the building. With the help of emergency personnel that arrived on scene, Reece made it inside and began coordinating efforts to carry out a woman who had been asleep in her bed. The woman, it turns out, was recovering from recent knee surgery. If not for Reece, she might have struggled to make it out on her own.

Most people (with firefighters being the exception) run out of a burning building, but Reece is not one of those people. He never thought twice about his actions. Still, he humbly gives credit to the other responders who were at his side, and to his brothers and sisters in the National Guard who would have done the same thing he did.

Reece’s love and appreciation for community is apparent, and it’s what he works to protect every time he deploys. And that day, it’s what drove him to go against the grain and run into a burning building, risking his own safety for that of others.

On March 13th at the Chase Park Plaza, Lt. Colonelveteranshomecare Reece will be honored with the Military Award at our annual Lifesaver Awards Breakfast.  We would like to thank Veteran’s Home Carethe official Sponsor of the Award, for partnering with the Red Cross to celebrate a true Lifesaver.

For more information on the Lifesaver 2014 Awards Breakfast, visit

Celebrating Our Lifesavers: Law Enforcement

**As we prepare for the Lifesaver 2014 Awards Breakfast on March 13th at the Chase Park Plaza, please join us on our blog as we share the stories and extraordinary efforts of this year’s honorees.**


By Emily Cutka, Communications Intern

Watching Craig Beeson and Detective Bret Carbray laugh and joke with one another, you’d think they were old friends. But they really haven’t known each other that long. In fact, the two can probably pinpoint the exact moment when they became friends: it was the day Detective Carbray saved Beeson’s life.

His job is to save people, though. As a detective with the Lake St. Louis Police Department, Carbray has seen things most of us can’t even imagine; things that don’t always have a happy ending. Thankfully, though, this story does.

The off-duty detective and his family were driving home from an out-of-town baseball tournament when he noticed an undamaged car stopped in the median. The driver, Beeson, was visibly slumped over the steering wheel. The vehicle –which had miraculously stopped in neutral –was locked and Beeson was unresponsive. Just as Detective Carbray was preparing to bust out a window to gain access, his wife noticed the open sunroof, allowing them enough space to reach in and unlock the doors.

Upon removing Beeson from the car, Detective Carbray found no pulse or signs of breathing. So with his wife and children looking on, he performed CPR for nearly 15 minutes until the paramedics arrived. Today, Beeson is almost completely recovered. He’s definitely feeling well enough to share jokes with the man who gave him mouth-to-mouth.

Police officers are used to the odds being stacked against them on certain cases, but on that spring day, the opposite was true. Neither Beeson nor Detective Carbray can quite make sense of the circumstances surrounding the incident, but they would both agree that everything worked out for the best.

On March 13th at the Chase Park Plaza, Detective Carbray will Drury Hotels Stacked Logobe honored with the Law Enforcement Award at our annual Lifesaver Awards Breakfast.  We would like to thank Drury Hotels, the official Sponsor of the Law Enforcement Award, for partnering with the Red Cross to celebrate a local hero.

For more information on the Lifesaver 2014 Awards Breakfast, visit

The Joy of What We Do

Written by: Phillip Iman, American Red Cross Disaster Specialist

Phillip ImanEarly one Monday morning we received a call from Audrain County Dispatch asking for assistance for a family of three whose mobile home, located on County Road 9377, had sustained unrepairable damage from a fire. Realizing the fire was just two miles from my home, I called the family myself to assess their situation.

The two adults and two children had been awakened by the scorching smell of smoke. The children had yelled out for Mom and Dad because their path of escape was blocked by fire coming up from the floor. The dad ran through the flames and rescued the children. After getting the family to safety, the dad ran back in to get what he could, realizing the home was going fast. He managed to get their shoes, which he told me he was so thankful for.

The fire department arrived quickly, which allowed a few of the family’s appliances to be saved, but their clothing was either saturated by water and smoke or burnt up. Neighbors quickly took the family in from the cold but there wasn’t room for the family to sleep, so my phone call to them was very welcome. You could tell by the lady’s voice that she was extremely frightened; she didn’t know what to do and was scared to travel far. I called a local motel and paid for a room, and they assured me they could make it to the motel. We made arrangements to meet in the daylight.

I called about 8:30 in the morning and they hadn’t slept at all, but welcomed me to meet with them. A local volunteer and I met them at 11:00 and sat with them for over an hour, just talking over their loss and plans for the future. By the time we parted ways they had somewhat of a plan about what they were going to do next and they knew that we would be right there for them should they have questions.

They felt truly blessed by the emergency assistance we provided. The referrals we provided and the insight of our wonderful volunteer made them feel like they had options instead of hopelessness. The comfort kits were a welcome surprise, not to mention the Mickey Mouse we gave the young man. Through the tears of loss came a resolve to recover and the blessing of knowing that somebody cares. That is the joy of what we do.


Red Cross: Supporting Our First Responders

You may often hear or read stories in the news about amazing Red Cross volunteers who respond to help families during their darkest hours, often after a house fire. They offer the residents emergency relief such as provisions for a warm meal and a safe place to stay. What you may not realize is that our deep core of volunteers also support the emergency responders on the scene.  

As local firefighters and other first responders take care of the emergency, Red Cross volunteers are often there with drinks and snacks to help rejuvenate those workers when they take a much-needed break from the life-saving mission.

This photo, captured at a multiple-alarm warehouse fire in Downtown St. Louis this week, illustrates how 24/7, 365 days a year, no matter the weather, Red Cross volunteers are there to lend that necessary support.

*Photo Courtesy: Theodore (Kelly) Sleeper

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Every Single Day.

house%20fire%203Yesterday she had so little; today she has even less. 

My first client at the Red Cross suffered a home fire yesterday.  In truth, she is lucky to be alive.  The wiring in her ceiling fan shorted and ignited a fire that would have consumed her had she fallen asleep in her bed last night.  Fortunately, she dozed off watching television downstairs as the fire smoldered upstairs.  She woke up to the sound of a neighbor banging on her door. By that time, the windows upstairs were popping. Eventually, each covered in soot and smoke shattered into the front lawn.  The fire department arrived quickly and flooded the uninsured home.  What smoke and flames didn’t destroy, water did.

When I met her, she was in her niece’s living room.  The home was clean, tidy and well-occupied.  There wasn’t room for the 56-year old aunt to stay, but it was a haven for the afternoon.  Clearly, the distraught women needed some help.  She had left her home hours earlier with the clothes on her back, flip flops on her feet and a purse on her arm – nothing else. A cardiac patient, she had to retire a year ago.  On social security disability, she didn’t have means to pay for a hotel, buy clothes or even a meal out.  What would have happened to her if the Red Cross had not come?  Would she have slept on the floor of her niece’s home? The grandson, who sleeps on the couch, likely would have given his space to her.  The large family probably would have stretched their meals to include one more, but would that have meant everyone would be hungry?  None of the scenarios we imagined could work for very long. Each would have put an incredible strain on a carefully, but precariously, constructed family life.

When DJ, the experienced Red Cross volunteer, explained what help the organization would provide, relief swept through the room.  The Red Cross responds to three fires a day in the St. Louis Region.  When needed, volunteer provide immediate access to food, clothing and shelter.  We did that last night for my first Red Cross client. The Red Cross here does that for someone—some family — every single day.

Toy Drive with the Cardinals & KMOV!

Last Friday and Saturday, we teamed up with the St. Louis Cardinals and KMOV for a 2nd annual holiday toy drive to benefit military families at Scott Air Force Base.  Thankfully, we were able to collect over 1100 gifts and $1300 in gift cards for kids — what a feat!  Thanks to all of the St. Louisans who braved the snow and ice to drop off #Gifts4Kids.  Check out photos and video here:

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